Round and About in Old Isleworth

Mid-May saw Isleworth & Hounslow Charity celebrate completion of extensive renovation work at Grade ll Listed Sermon’s Almshouses, Twickenham Road.  All six early 19thC dwellings have undergone transformation including re-decoration, newly fitted kitchens and shower rooms.  The stand-out addition is that each dwelling has a conservatory-style extension at the rear to provide an extra room. The former dreary corridor like area running the length of the back of the properties now displays raised flower beds abundantly planted with shrubs, plus smart new paving.   A short ceremony was held giving the opportunity for the charity trustees to explain its background ethos that for over 350 years it, and its predecessor charities, has and continues to provide housing for the needy.  M.P. Ruth Cadbury and Hounslow’s Mayor, Cllr Sue Sampson, jointly unveiled a plaque as a permanent reminder of the occasion.

The first South Street/Shrewsbury Walk market took place on 28th April and was extremely well attended despite inclement weather at the start.  TIS was offered and accepted the chance to have the table made available for a community group.  This proved an excellent opportunity to explain to those not in the know our aims, how we go about trying to improve the area and reasons for opposing the build on Park Road Allotments where no affordable housing is planned.  A few new members were also gained. Future markets are set for the 1st Saturday and 3rd Saturday monthly, 10.00 to 14.00.  TIS plans to attend on some future occasions.

On the subject of improvements this April, many months after first raising the poor condition of the pillar box in South Street, Royal Mail finally renovated it.  However, they still win top prize for contradictions. May 2017 they intimated boxes in TW7 would be painted during that year.  This did not materialise.  February 2018 they confirmed painting would be carried out to 35 boxes to accord with their five year painting schedule by end March 2018.  May 2018 the story changed to 41 boxes in TW7 would not receive attention until 2021/2022.   A complaint drew an apology but no reasons for the confusion and reiterated the latter date.   Subsequent contact with the Chief Executive has heaped on more confusion as Royal Mail’s account of those that have not already received attention does not tally with TIS’s survey.  The saga continues.

A group called Shakespeare in the Squares which, as their title implies, stages Shakespeare productions in open places around London, planned to have their 2018 opening production of As You Like It in All Saints’ Churchyard.   This idea was received with enthusiasm by Vicar Ali Walton and TIS offered its support.   Sadly, the idea was subsequently abandoned as it was felt interference from aircraft would be too disruptive.  Staying with All Saints’ Church, Catharina Olsson Gisleskog joins the team there from lst July following her ordination at St Paul’s Cathedral on Saturday 30th June.  Catharina grew up in Sweden, lists her hobbies as playing the piano, running, skiing, languages and travel.  She will be a self-supporting minister on two days each week plus Sundays.

In March 2017 through Burchells based in Lower Square, Hounslow Highways (HH) were given detail of the developer involved in conversion to apartments of the Old Blue School.  He had indicated willingness to contribute to renovation of the by then less than pristine paving in front of the property.  Over a year later, following a lot of prodding from TIS, agreement was reached for the developer to pay HH a lump sum following which materials would be purchased and re-paving take place.  In addition, benches would be renovated and bollards painted, the perimeter railings having already received a lick of paint.  At the time of going to press it has not been possible to gain confirmation payment has been made to enable the work but hope springs eternal. There is also hope that LBofH/HH’s agreement will be achieved to paint Church Street bollards from Lower Square to Manor House Way to complete improvement to this area.

All has gone quiet, despite enquiries, as to whether the three month summer trial proposed by Thames landscape Strategy to reinstate Isleworth Ferry will become a reality.   Rumour has it the riverside footpath in front of the Swan Court development site from Lion Wharf Road to Town Wharf Public House will re-open in August, a welcome prospect.  LBofH has in hand updating the “No Through Route” signage at Herons’ Place now there is a through path along the river to Richmond Road where signage will also be installed. Objections from London Wildlife Trust achieved removal from a planning application to install up-lights on this path.   This would have had a severe adverse effect on wildlife.  Approval was given for one additional lamp column and two CCTV cameras.

TIS hit the jackpot when the Council approved submissions made during the last round of consultations for allocation of S106/CIL monies.  The following were agreed:-

·       £700 to install a double headed lamp in Church Street to give better light as the lamp on house number 53 is beyond repair and there is no alternative site for a column.

·       £18,000 to add to the previous £10,000 allocated for restoration of Park Road cemetery gates/pillars.

·       £12,000 to restore historic milestones, London Road.  TIS made this application several years ago but was unsuccessful. It has now been resurrected because further funds became available.

·       £20,000 for benches/litter bins for Redlees Park.

All in all Isleworth did rather well. Redlees was also allocated £100,000 for improvements to the changing rooms as a result of a request by former Councillor, Ed Mayne. St John’s Residents’ Association gained £40,000 to renovate poor condition footpaths in St John’s Gardens, while Isleworth Public Hall, following a request by Osterley & Spring Grove Cllr Tony Louki, was allocated £16,489 to address dilapidations. The idea is that this can be used to achieve matched funding from other grant sources to increase the scope of renovations.  However, because of the slow progress in achieving transfer of management of the venue to Activebase, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation formed for this purpose, improvement could be some way in the future.  There is a glimmer of light on management change in that a submission to the Charity Commission is envisaged in order to clarify some issues over the process.

There is news of some progress on the status of the bust capturing many features of painter Vincent Van Gogh, offered to the Council for display in Isleworth where once he resided at Holme Court when it was a boys’ academy.  While no definite decision has been made on where it will be displayed, one suggestion is Isleworth Leisure Centre, the Council is progressing arrangements to take delivery from the sculptor, Anthony Padgett.  A decision on where it will finally be located will be made once delivery is achieved.

The refurbished children’s play area with its abundance of new equipment at Redlees Park opened in time for the half-term school holiday.  A formal ceremony headed by the Hounslow’s Mayor on 31st May was planned plus a range of activities but predicted bad weather caused this to be cancelled.  The by now ritual of the funfair at Redlees failed to appear earlier in the year occasioned by obstructions from a portacabin related to the play area works compounded by the orchard planted in January. This meant the fair was destined to use a slightly different area of the park to the usual where due to heavy rainfall the ground was unusable.

April saw the Friends of Silverhall Park undertake a weekend of litter picking to keep the park up to scratch. The following month The Conservation Volunteers removed in-stream detritus from the Duke of Northumberland River there. LBofH’s Leisure Service has arranged a management plan training session at Silverhall for members of the Friends’ Group with London Wildlife’s Senior Ecologist on 14th July.   A review of the damaged mulberry tree revealed no adverse change, the props still holding strong and fence keeping it safe.  Removal is envisaged of ivy growing around the tree’s base to enable a check to ensure a strong connection between the stump and stem where a break occurred. The tree will be assessed again at the end of October 2018.

Thornbury’s orchard was planted at the beginning of the year flowered and some surplus shrubbery was removed, supplemented by the Friends Group cutting back ivy around a silver birch plantation during a clean-up weekend.   A swing in St John’s Gardens that was burnt out has at long last been replaced and the St John’s Road gate repaired, but there is a recurring problem with operatives entering the park for maintenance work via the vehicle gate omitting to lock it on leaving.  Overall local parks suffered when a late start was made on grass cutting resulting, when it was undertaken, in some rather sub-standard work by the Council’s new contractor Greenspace 360.  This was very apparent at Silverhall Park where the situation was compounded by problems over access for the necessary equipment caused by parked cars blocking the vehicle gate. Steps are now being taken to progress making it mandatory for this entrance space to be kept clear at all times.

At what was formerly called the Pitt Park at Northcote Avenue, implementation of initial stages of the agreed plans to transform it from a neglected former recreation ground into a nature reserve are being held up by a failure between LBofH and Hounslow Housing to agree sign off on a crucial access issue where the land is owned by the latter organisation. After three years a decision has still not come through on the application for this open space to be granted Village Green status.  This was made by the fledgling Friends of Northcote Nature Reserve group. However, on the plus side its membership has now reached 100+.

At Mogden Sewage Works Thames Water have recently funded over £700,000 of work to refurbish the Odour Control Units.  A further £4m is promised to carry out improvements to the control units, inlet to the works, aeration lanes and storm tank equipment.  Actions have also been taken in an effort to reduce odour by covering channels and replacing corroded roller shutter doors to the screen house, with permission granted to add a new sludge building.  Security fencing has been installed on-site along the east bank of the Duke of Northumberland’s River.  Additionally, work started on 28th May to replace fencing along the public footpath from Worton Road to Mogden Lane. This involves removing trees and bushes growing up and through the existing fence revealing a clear view of the oxygenation lanes and a lot of litter. It is understood a litter pick is planned as is planting of native replacement species.   For safety reasons, apart from when events are taking place at Twickenham Stadium, this path will be closed until 21st July 2018. 

From 6th June 2018 Police in Hounslow join up with those of Ealing and Hillingdon to form what is to be known as the West Area Basic Command Unit.  The idea behind this is that by working together and sharing responsibilities economies of scale can be identified and achieved.  The existing scheme of Ward based policing boundaries is being retained, whereby each Ward has a Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) with two dedicated officers and one PCSO assigned to and ring fenced for it. One innovation in communications to come from the change is a new messaging and alert system (OWL).   This will enable Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators and local SNT police teams to send out to residents who sign up to the service alerts and surveys relevant to their locality.   While this scheme is yet to be fully rolled out the following link provides a preview of the sign-up process:  https://www.owl.co.uk/